I M M O B I L I S M | a labor of love lost and found (2010-2020)

I wrote these words a long time ago.

.. While many roads in Beirut remain congested, expensive highway, viaduct and tunnel bypass projects have been constructed in anticipation of higher traffic levels. Less costly congestion relief, such as promoting alternative transportation modes and transportation demand management (TDM) initiatives have not been seriously considered for either the short of long terms. The projects that have been built were not assessed for the negative impacts that both construction and the final product would have on the communities they served and passed through. Furthermore, these communities were not consulted or involved in the planning at all, let alone adequately informed of the length or timing of construction. Major blows to confidence in government, these projects serve as ambassadors of government effectiveness and process. They have also contributed to the country’s soaring debt. Currently at 18.5 Billion USD, Lebanon has among the highest per capita foreign debts in the world at almost $5,000. Only in the last few years did CDR begin to recognize these impacts and has since begun to focus more on increasing social and community capacity, as well as assessing the social impacts of their infrastructure projects. It is telling that social investments such as community and economic development support and poverty alleviation programs were only initiated in 2002, with the launching of the Economic and Social Development Fund and the Community Development Program at CDR. Prior to this, their social programs generally included school and health center construction, but not the programming within them. The recent inclusion of this program within CDR provides an excellent opportunity for a project that improves infrastructure and transportation systems as well as social, economic and environmental enhancements.

Fig 4. Albert was seated near this sign, which reads: “Saqr Transport, Line Number 4” and lists the areas the bus passes through.

Much has been written about the geopolitical and internal motivations of the two main factions of this war, the Lebanese Front and the National Front (see Traboulsi, 2007, chapter 11; Fregonese, 2009). My focus in this section will be on how this war expressed itself in the urban environment. As Fregonese (2012) argues, from “April 1975 to October 1991, Beirut’s urban geography was transformed by political violence” (p. 664), with much of the devastation of the city center occuring in its first two years (Fregonese, 2009).

I wrote these words in secret, after dark, a long time ago. I hesitated when writing these words.